It was a flashback...a frightening, spirit-sinking flashback for Scott Creighton.
Watching report after report on the devastation wreaked across the Gulf Coast region by Hurricane Katrina, the president of Colony Tire Corp. decided it was time to do something. Part of that impetus to act was rooted in knowing first-hand about how it feels to experience such a tragedy.
``Two years ago we had Hurricane Isabel hit our town of Edenton where we're based,'' he said. ``It devastated us like we've never been devastated before.''
He sighed almost imperceptibly, probably replaying in his mind's video the destruction Mother Nature delivered to Edenton, a town of between 6,000 and 7,000.
Yet in the next breath, Mr. Creighton softly added: ``But that was very minor compared to what happened with Katrina. When Isabel hit, it flooded our town, my parents' house, my house. Still, it's nothing like we're seeing now.''
Nothing like now.
So Colony Tire, long on corporate memory, decided to step into the breech. With 38 locations in North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, the dealership has donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross and another $25,000 to the Salvation Army to aid in Katrina relief efforts. ``When you look at the TV reports from New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama, the devastation is just terrible,'' Mr. Creighton said. ``We felt we needed to do something for the people down there.''
Mr. Creighton's brother-in-law, Colony Executive Vice President Andrew Bergeron, has family living in Napoleonville, La., about 40 miles from New Orleans. They made it through the storm OK, Mr. Creighton said, adding: ``Experiencing Isabel and having family and friends down there and seeing such devastation on the news every night, you remember what you went through. And then you see how bad it is now and you want to do all you can to help. That's why we're doing it.''
In addition to the monetary donations on behalf of the company, he said the dealership has set up collection areas at all its stores. Semi-trailers donated by several trucking companies will be loaded with donations of water, canned food and a variety of non-perishable items. As soon as each is filled, it will be trucked to areas as needed.
``Everyone-our customers, our employees-has been very receptive at our stores to bringing in stuff,'' he said.
The dealership also has stepped in with some on-the-ground tire support. After receiving a call from a Tire Centers Inc. location in Olive Branch, Miss., Colony shipped 15 off-the-road tires to the outlet, which needed them for equipment doing emergency rescue work.
Colony, in business since 1976, has 475 employees. Mr. Creighton said the company's footprint spreads from Burlington, N.C., up to Richmond, Va., over to the Atlantic Coast and down to Morehead City, N.C.